Part of Middle Mountain in the George Washington National Forest,
and sister hike to the Duncan Knob Hollow Hike, the Duncan Knob hike offers solitude, a rock scrabble, and
great views of the Massanutten Range and Shenandoah Valley.
Water is scarce over most of the hike, so make sure to bring
At 1.3 miles come to a
four way junction and the yellow blazed Scothorn Gap Trail you
have been on turns left. Directly ahead is the orange blazed Massanutten
Trail, which you will use to return. To the right is Massanutten
Turn left on Scothorn Gap Trail, the trail gradually rises and passes a small clearing
before coming to the junction
of blue blazed Gap Creek Trail after 1.5 miles from turning left at
Turn right onto blue blazed Gap Creek Trail as it ascends steeply to the ridge line in 0.3 miles. On the ridge line is a white blazed trail on the left. This
leads you to Duncan Knob in 0.3 miles, requiring scrambling
over rocks in places to get there.
To continue the hike return
to Gap Creek Trail and Turn left. Note: it is easy to miss the trail
on the way back, the white blazes in the rock field are hard
to find. Just remain on the ridge line and you will reestablish
the white trail if you miss it.
Turn right on Massanutten Trail for 1.8 miles. Veer right steeply
upward for another 0.4 miles then descending 0.7 miles and returning
to the four way junction you turned left at on the way up earlier.
Massanutten Connector Trail turns left here.
on the yellow blazed Scothorn Gap Trail 1.3 miles, re-crossing Passage
Creek and returning to the parking area.
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Reviews For The Duncan Knob Hike (5 Most Recent)
Hiked Duncan knob for my gf's birthday. Having done it before, we did not read the recent reviews here on Hiking Upward...oops. Our intent was to do an out and back hike in order to save some time, however we ended up doing the entire loop because we missed a key intersection.
As the previous poster has said, the Scothorn Gap trail is no longer well marked, perhaps due to the controlled burn, perhaps due to lack of any sort of trail maintenance. We missed the 1 mile turn off, just as they did, and ended up turning left onto the Massanutten. After hiking for awhile and not coming to the white trail, I knew something was wrong. Then we started descending...uh oh.
Anyhow, eventually we hit another marker and I realized our error. We ended up doing the loop in reverse. We turned left onto the blue trail and eventually turned right onto the white trail which leads to the scramble. Someone has placed a well-sized cairn to mark the return to the white trail from the scramble, a nice addition. On the way back we hit the junction with the yellow Scothorn Gap Trail. The blazes stop after soon after and this trail is very overgrown. We each picked up a few tickshere, so be on the lookout. There was an unmarked intersection about 1 mile from the previous junction, we headed straight (vs right) and I believe that was the correct choice.
Finally we came back to the intersection with the Massanutten and saw how we missed the Scothorn Gap trail in the beginning. After walking through a muddy section of trail that has a rudimentary log bridge covering the mud, the main trail clearly heads to the Massanutten and the Scothorn Gap trail is so overgrown that we didn't even realize it was there! If you reach the 4 way intersection with the Massanutten you have gone too far! Turn around and head about 50 yards backwards and look for the overgrown Scothorn Gap trail if you want to do the conventional loop or an out/back hike.
With a fun scramble and an awesome view, Duncan knob is really a great hike. We managed to see plenty of wild life too - turtle, snake, deer. Although the remnants of the controlled burn were obvious, plenty of foliage is growing in and we had some nice cover from the sun. Our biggest complaint was the condition of the Scothorn Gap trail. It needs to be blazed again.
Date of Hike: Saturday, May 25, 2013
One of my favorite loops not far from DC. We saw a wild turkey with chicks. The cicadas were really making noise in one area. After dinner, we were greeted by the cutest mouse at our campsite (located at the intersection of Massanutten and Gap Creek Trail). Clearly he has eaten scraps before and this required us to hang our bags from a nearby tree to avoid being chewed during the night.
I last did this loop a year ago and was surprised to see that a fire had gone through this area quite recently. Some sleuthing revealed a prescribed burn back in April. Everything is burned inside of the loop between the Strickler and Duncan Knobs and down the mountain almost to Crisman Hollow. While it was really neat to see all the new growth on the forest floor, there is very little tree cover over a large portion of this loop, leaving you exposed to the sun. Also, the fire crew bulldozed the fire roads, pushing rocks and debris off to the side. You can easily walk three wide without brushing the bushes. It's quite a mess and the water erosion is pretty bad. Very muddy over large portions of the trail. You pretty much hike with nice green woods on one side of the trail and burned woods on the other. If I were to do this loop, I would go in cooler weather until the tree cover returns. The only good thing now is you won't be attacked by the briars on the Massanutten trail as in years past!
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 05, 2013
I had originally planned to do this in combination with Strickler Knob, which is just a short addition on the way back from Duncan Knob via the Massanutten Trail. My plans almost went awry, however, due to a fork in the Scothorn Gap Trail that is not mentioned in the route description on this website. After hiking steeply upward for about a mile from the trailhead the jeep track suddenly levels out. The jeep track continues left, but there is a big meadow to the right and that is the true continuation of the Scothorn Gap Trail. There is a yellow arrow on a large tree at the fork that points in that direction but it is easy to miss since the natural continuation appears to be on the jeep track. I followed it and came to a big boggy area almost impossible to outflank. When I emerged with muddy boots I missed seeing a trail that diverged off to the left that was in fact a continuation of the Scothorn Gap Trail coming in from the right. Instead I continued on until I came to the junction described in the route description. I took the left turning believing it was the Scothorn Gap Trail, when in fact it was the Massanutten Trail leading in the direction of Strickler Knob. In fact, I had been on the Scothorn Gap Trail coming from the wrong direction, which is why I was confused. The left jeep track fork I had taken earlier had been a shortcut to the main Scothorn Gap Trail, which should be avoided because it is not only confusing but, as described above, extremely wet. At any rate, I soon realized my mistake and ended up doing the described route in reverse. I decided to give Strickler Knob a go. The beginning of the trail to Strickler is not hard to spot (there is a red circular disk on a tree) and there is a path all the way. Some commentators say that the reddish blazes have been removed. This is not true. They are obvious almost the entire way, as is a cleared path. I say almost the entire way because I did not make it all the way. I ran into a timber rattlesnake just off the trail (the first I have seen in the Blue Ridge in 35 years of hiking) not far from the end. I could have bushwacked around it but was unsure I would be able to spot it on the way back. So I continued with the rest of the described hike counterclockwise up to Duncan Knob. On the path from the Gap Trail to the Knob you have to scramble up some sharp boulders for about a hundred feet. It is not hard and not exposed but in the spring there are a lot of what I assume are pieces of leaves from the previous fall that are encrusted onto the rocks. Unpleasant. It is a matter of pure luck whether you can regain the path that runs from the Gap Trail up to the beginning of the boulder field so just make sure you come down at a right angle from the summit rocks. That will ensure you hit the Gap Trail which continues down to the Scothorn Gap Trail and back to your starting point. The view from Duncan Knob, by the way, was OK but not in the same league as Kennedy Peak just to the north.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 30, 2013
My boyfriend and I are avid hikers and decided to take on this hike. We knew the main road to the trailhead was closed during the winter/late spring so we hiked 3 miles to the trail head from route 675. We wanted to do the whole loop but the trail was very muddy. I mean MUDDY. We are use to rugged trails but the mud was so deep we decided to just summit ....going up the white blaze. We had this mountain to ourselves which was great! The rock scramble was easy on the way up...but challenging on the way down. It is not marked. I suggest taking trail tape so you don't loose sight of the trail on the way down. We ended up bushwaking back to the trail, but someone with less experience in the woods may have difficulty. This is not a beginner hike...although the elevation gain going from 675 was not that big....
Date of Hike: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Access road to the trail head was closed when we attempted on Sunday 2/24/13. (Would have been a 3 mile walk just to get to the start of the trail) Sadly we didn't come w/ a map of the nearer areas to see what alternates were available (headed over to Big Schloss), so won't make that mistake again. Have heard good things about this hike and the nearby Kennedy's Peak. Come prepared w/ alternates!